Kris Kristofferson

Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-1972

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Leave it to Light in the Attic to unearth something like this, package it obsessively enough to make it a fetish object, and put it out there for the hardcore fans to drool over, while making it an attractive object of discovery for the collector or the bravest of the uninitiated. Since these are publishing demos, this is far from an unadorned version of the best-of Kris Kristofferson. These are songs he wrote, more than likely with the intention of having them recorded by other artists. “Me & Bobby McGee” is an obvious example as is the title track that was a hit for both Bobby Bare and Sammy Davis, Jr. “Come Sundown” hit for them both, as well. On this latter track, you can add a Top Ten for Dick Curless, too. “The Lady’s Not for Sale” hit for Kristofferson's wife at the time, Rita Coolidge, and "When I Loved Her" scored for Ray Price, “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” hit the country charts for Hank Jr., and “Just the Other Side of Nowhere" was cut by Dean Martin, Dottie West, and Chris Montez -- the latter two had hits with it. These examples aside, Kristofferson ended up recording all of these songs himself; and while other artists can rightfully claim to making some of these songs their own, who else could have cut “Border Lord” or “Duvalier’s Dream” with such authority? Kristofferson's early versions of these songs, such as “Epitaph (Black and Blue),” “Little Girl Lost,” the title track, “Enough for You,” and even “Me and Bobby McGee” contain, in his plaintive, grainy monotone, a kind of otherworldly sadness and the wisdom that memory adds. These versions have that kind of loneliness in them, even when Kristofferson’s having a good time, such as on “Slow Down.” Producers Mark Linn and Matt Sullivan did a fantastic job -- though adding the original demo for “Sunday Morning Coming Down” would have been a nice touch. There's an exhaustive, beautifully written liner essay by Michael Simmons; the booklet is almost as fascinating as the music with excellent reminiscences by Dennis Hopper, Merle Haggard, Kinky Friedman, and Kristofferson himself. Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends is all killer, no filler. [The set is also available on LP.]

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